Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Unity In Difference

T must have felt like wrangling today, because during the back end of his visit here today he broke out the whips to beat his favorite dead horse.  It started with his recounting of the topic of a recorded sermon series to which a mutual acquaintance is listening.  Apparently the preacher in the series has a bit to say on the subject of the mark of the beast, mentioned in the Bible, in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus, the last Book of the Bible.  The only thing I got out of T's description of what he says he heard is that this preacher believes, and is teaching, that there are forms of worship occurring in the Church (I mean the Church Universal, not the Catholic Church; because I know that Catholics capitalize the word "Church" in reference to itself, but I'm not Catholic, and I'm making the distinction between the Body of Christ and a building or denomination) that are not representative of what ought to be the true worship of a member of the Body of Christ.  Such worship, this preacher teaches, carries on it the mark of the beast.

"But who is he to say whose way of worship is right and whose is wrong?!" T demanded.  "He is just a man!  Nobody knows who's right or wrong!  That's why there are so many denominations out here, because nobody agrees on what's right or wrong, and nobody knows.  Everybody's different!"

God has done something in me since T told me he couldn't relate to me anymore.  Yes, I still defend my understanding of Christianity and the Bible whenever the subject arises, but whereas before his words always felt like an attack upon me, now I don't feel it so much, so that where I formerly resisted having the conversation after awhile, because it was so emotionally exhausting, now I have found, these last few times recently, that I am quite calm and accepting about it all; not accepting of his words, because difference doesn't always mean wrong, and the one who seeks wisdom and truth from God shall be given it, so it is indeed possible to know God's mind about the truths He has given us and which have been recorded; but accepting of his need to argue this.  I think it comes from recognizing that the true fight is not with me per se, but between the two forces that war for his soul, one of which has him and does not want to let go.  But T does and will belong to God in the end, of this I am and choose to be assured, so it is merely a waiting time for me until I see the manifestation.  I know it will be glorious :-)!

His words came to mind not more than an hour later when, during the beginning of our time of prayer at a local church, the group leader, a sweet angel of a lady with such a beautiful and joyous heart, shared with us the conversation, as she chose to term it, that arose out of what turned out to be perceived differences in styles of praying.  The discussion arose out of the perception of a participant in the morning prayer group last week that one or more other participants had taken too much of their share of time at praying aloud in a group.   A little later, we were all engrossed in our group leader's discussion with us about a church where six hours per session somehow manage to be too short in spite of everything!

Our prayers tonight reflected the common knowledge that we all are unique, with unique ways of experiencing life and of processing and understanding what we experience.  We are all differently gifted by our Father for the carrying out of His will in the earth.  Yet, His Spirit fills all who are His:  One Lord, one faith, one baptism in the Spirit, as Apostle Paul says.  Therefore, rather than that our differences divide us, we prayed tonight, and all ought to pray always, that we will be one in Him, just as Jesus Himself prayed for all of us.  

For as we all know that difference has been used of Satan to cause division among the race of mankind, even among those who claim to be believers in and adherers to the Word of God, so we all aught to recognize as well that our differences mean the coverage of the earth more effectively with our Lord's message for the ushering in of His kingdom.  Every part of the body is different one part from another, yet each part contributes its portion to the total experience of life of the complete person.  Moreso is this true in the Spirit:  We all have our unique testimonies and gifts, yet we all contribute in our individuality to the growth of the Church Universal which is headed by God Himself, from Whom we all receive the power of the Holy Spirit.  So just as the one Spirit activates all the individual parts for the good of the whole Body, so we ought not be intimidated by our differences, nor ought we to be divided by them.  

Moreover, we ought not to accept as condemnation or criticism from outsiders their pointing out of our differences individually, whether there be errors by individuals when they act out of ignorance, misunderstanding, or incomplete information, or whether there be sins willfully committed in rebellion, as rationalization for their own misconduct before God, because all have sinned and fall short of His glory, whether in the Body or not, and for all Jesus had to make atonement, whether they be in the Body or not.  The Bible is clear:  The soul that sins shall die.  Only one atonement is available as a remedy for this, and it has been made.  All that remains is for those who have sinned to become of a different mind about sin, recognizing that Jesus, and not the sinful individual, is right, Lord, and the one Who must be obeyed.  Sin of which a Believer is guilty is still sin, and lack of knowledge is still destructive; therefore it lacks merit as a justification of the misbehavior of a rebel.  If judgment starts in the house of God, as the Bible says, then what man outside it is there who should think it will go any better for him?

As for the charge that God has not told us who is right and who is wrong, the answer, by way of warning, that I would give is that to whom much is given, much is required.  This applies, as much as to anything else, to the ability and opportunity to receive, understand, and do the right that God has made known.  The Bible repeatedly states that "He has (my emphasis) shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do what is right, have a heart for mercy, and walk humbly with your God?"  To whom He is accused of having not shown it, that one has closed his eyes and therefore cannot see.  But we do not have a God who gives us instruction, then leaves us with no understanding how to follow the instruction He has given.  We may freely seek wisdom from our Father, asking Him, and He gives freely, without reproach.  He invites us to come and reason together with Him.  

True, there will, for all our seeking and asking, not be a total answering of all questions in this life, but there will be a Day when we will know to the same extent we are known.  Until then, let us rejoice in the beauty of our uniqueness, given by God as it is, for it is given so that the Body into which He is incorporating us will lack nothing.  At the same time, let us recognize that our true distinctiveness is not because of our differences, but because of the unity to be found in Him.  In our distinction one from another, we are all bearers of His image, therefore let us know well where our focus should be:  It's not about us, but about Him.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Breaking the Fast: First Slice of Swordfish

So today, I broke the Daniel Fast, yesterday being the last day.  It felt good to know that I can have whatever I want now, but I feel no great pressure to go out and "make up for lost time".  I was, however, more than ready to eat some fish!  In a previous blog entry, I think I mentioned that I might buy some fresh fish when I went to Whole Foods.  And so I did.  Rather, the fish was frozen, but that was okay, I still bought some.  The fish of choice was swordfish, which I'd never had before.  

So based on my virgin encounter with this fish, here's what I can now tell you about it:  If you like a firm, mild-flavored fish with which you can do a lot, do not sleep on swordfish!  It's not something you're going to feed your family on the regular; I picked up two good-sized pieces for six and change per.  I suppose two people who don't eat that much could have split the portions I got, but I've eaten restaurant portions of meat the same size as the portions of fish I bought, and I just ate one of them by myself, with no problem and without dividing the portion, and I'm not uncomfortably stuffed at all.   So one portion will definitely satisfy the average appetite.  I'd reserve it as a date night food if I were in that kind of relationship.  But my research indicates that in addition to pan-frying it, you can poach it in olive oil, broil it, bake it, or use it in stews.  Once cooked, you can flake it in salads the way you would use tuna.

When you go to buy swordfish, you will notice that it is cut in steaks, which means the butcher (if that is what you call the person who prepares fish) cuts through the fish instead of cutting down the sides of the fish; a cut down the side of the fish is how you get a fillet.  The steaks I got were sliced about an inch thick.  They were a sort of grayish-pink with a distinct bud-shaped marking in the flesh.  My research indicated that when you see that marking, it should be more pink than brown.  Brown indicates that the fish is old, in which case you may want to leave it. Thawed out, the fish will feel pretty firm.  If it's frozen when you get it, you are recommended to take it out of the package, place it in a bowl, cover the fish in plastic, and thaw it in the refrigerator.  Once thawed, you can marinate it in lemon juice with salt and pepper sprinkled on for taste when you finally cook it.  Four hours is a long enough marinate time, I think.  As for the piece of skin that comes on it, the recommendation is to leave it in place during cooking to hold in the moisture so it doesn't become too dry, but do not attempt to eat the skin once the fish is cooked because it will be rubbery.

Okay, now go get your mise en place, and I'll tell you how I cooked it.  You'll need one or two swordfish steaks thawed and marinated in whatever seasonings you like on your fish.  I used the aforementioned lemon juice sprinkled with salt and pepper.  Since I also bought some chili powder yesterday, I decided to use that, too, but not in the marinade.  You'll need some oil or cooking spray to grease a skillet or other frying device.  And you'll need a plate covered in paper towels to soak up the excess oil that comes off the fish when it's done.

First, if you haven't done this already, you want to rinse the thawed fish in cool water, play it out on paper towels, and pat it dry.  You can either cook it at this point or marinate it by putting your marinade ingredients into the bottom of a shallow bowl or other container big enough to hold the fish, then cover it with plastic.  Since I don't have plastic, I used a resealable storage container.  put your fish into the container with the marinade, cover it, and go on about your business until it's time to cook.  Pay close attention to how thick your fish is cut; if you plan to pan-fry it, this will be your indicator of how long per side to cook it:  Per inch, you will cook it five minutes on one side.

To prepare, heat a cast-iron or other type skillet or frying pan over medium heat until a bead of water dropped onto it goes dancing on the surface as it boils away.  If you use non-stick spray, then you should have already sprayed your pan before you preheated it.  Once your pan is nice and hot, and if you're using oil instead of cooking spray, pour in a small amount of cooking oil, enough to slick the surface.  I do this by taking up the pan and tilting it to allow the oil to run over onto all the surface of the pan.  It doesn't take the oil very long to get hot at this point, so have your fish ready to put into the pan as soon as the oil is hot.  Very gently and carefully lay the fish into the pan or skillet and allow it to cook on that side for five minutes.  Once the fish is in the skillet, you can sprinkle your favorite seasonings on.  I used Kosher salt, ground black pepper, and chili powder, sprinkled into my hand and then onto the fish, a pinch at a time.  

At the five minute mark (for a 1-inch thick fish steak), turn it with a pancake turner and cook the other side for four minutes, optionally sprinkling more seasonings over the up-facing side.  During this time you want to layer paper towels onto the receiving plate to catch the excess oil.  At the four minute mark, remove the fish from the frying pan and put it on the plate to drain.  Don't worry about the fact that you cooked it for less time after you turned it; this will prevent you overcooking the fish.  When it flakes easily, you'll know it's done.  Have your other meal selections ready to plate when you remove the fish form the heat; it will cool quickly.

I had my first taste of swordfish accompanied by a tabbouleh salad, with ordinary mild salsa and a generous scoop of a garlic-feta dip to go with the fish, although the fish needed nothing.  The combination of the lemon juice seeping into the fish, plus the salt, pepper, and chili powder made for a very tasty piece of seafood.

I'd intended to have some oven-fried potato sticks, but as I was taking them out of the oven, I saw that they were starting to burn a little, and in the attempt to shake the baking sheet they were on, I instead tilted the sheet and spilled all but a few pieces onto the floor.  I was disgusted with myself and did not want to take the time to make more, since I cooked them at the same time as the fish so as to have them ready when the fish was done.  The few I did get to taste were pretty good, though.  And because I cooked both fish steaks, I have another piece for tomorrow, so I'll feel as though I'm having a little picnic for Memorial Day.

Speaking of which, don't forget to thank God for the sacrifices made by our war dead for the sake of this country, and for the freedoms we enjoy because of them. And don't forget to thank those of our servicepeople still living for their service also, whether or not they're still active.  Freedom is sweet, but it is not free, or is it cheap.  I appreciate having mine.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Daniel Fast, Day 21: Wrap-Up!

Hey, y'all!  It has been a long day, and Mama is tired!  And a whole lot lighter in the pocket than when the day started.  Am I complaining?  Not at the moment; I'm feeling pretty happy with my purchases at the moment.  But some of that stuff I know full well I could have have done without buying today, although if I hadn't bought it today, I would have bought it some other day, so today was as good a day as any other to get it.

Things I bought today that I could have put on the "buy later" list include a jar of bentonite clay that I plan to try on my hair as a shampoo, a 32-ounce bottle of African black soap by Alaffia that I tried as a hand soap almost as soon as I walked in the door—verdict:  YE-E-E-E-ESSSSSSS!!!—some natural toothpaste for which I misread the price and so will not buy again, a tube of Burt's Bees lip balm that has mango butter in it but which I didn't need right now because I just bought two others last month, two bags of snacks that I could have probably bought elsewhere at equal or lesser cost, and a tube of double-concentrated tomato paste.  Although, to be fair, the things that really drove up my budget are the nuts and the maple syrup.  The nuts I will eat anyway, because they've become a staple in the way of eating that I will be practicing from now on. The maple syrup is one of three, maybe four sweeteners which will all replace sugar as staple sweeteners in my food list, and it's one of those things where it becomes more cost effective the more of it you buy, which means to make it worth the price, you pretty much have to break the bank on it.

This is the last day of the Daniel Fast, y'all.  I'm very happy about that.  I have two pieces of swordfish thawing out in my fridge right now, that I plan to cook tomorrow for lunch to inaugurate my new intended pescetarianism.  With it I will have a tabouleh salad, sliced tomatoes, and fruit.  Maybe I will also brew some green tea.  I have missed my tea!  And it will be nice to have something else to eat with rice besides pinto beans, although I ate that for breakfast and supper (I missed lunch) today and liked it both times, so obviously I'm not hurting that much, just want to shake up the monotony a bit, and now I can. 

So, was this anything like what I expected?  Yes and no.  Yes, I knew that it would be both easier and harder than the typical, more complete, more arduous fast wherein I give up all foods and all liquids except water (at my current size, as much sweat as I produce, and with my bladder's tendency to spasm painfully when I'm critically dehydrated, I stopped trying to fast without water years ago); easier because I still ate, but harder because I still gave up eating things I desired.  And just because the fast is now in its last hours, it doesn't mean that I will go back to business as usual.  Instead, I start a different way of eating, for which this fast was a set-up as much as it was a sacrifice. 

Do I feel that I wasted my time?  Absolutely NOT!!!  This was good for me in a number of ways.  I lost weight; how much I don't know, but lose weight I definitely know I did.  During this week alone, I have now been in two situations wherein I was required to sit in chairs that typically were too small to hold me comfortably, if at all, and in both instances the chairs held me with a greater degree of comfort than they would have a mere three weeks ago.  I've now made a 20-minute walk part of my daily routine for at least two days out of the week, and will certainly do it more than that.  I feel better than I have in YEARS!!!  And that's just the beginning. 

I've become more proactive about avoiding as many unnecessary and artificial preservatives and additives as possible.  I'm eating more plant matter than ever before.  I can now eat plain fruit or vegetables and nothing else and still be satisfied, and I'm more readily satisfied on far less.  I now know that I don't need to eat meat to be satisfied.  As a result of not eating it, my cholesterol is going to go down overall, and my bad cholesterol specifically.  I'm going to continue to see a drop in weight, because I have replaced the volume of meat I ate with a greater volume of legumes, nuts, and seeds as a result of which I will take in fewer calories in exchange for way more fiber, which will help to sweep out the fat I do take in and relieve my liver of having to work as hard.  That energy from there can now go to other things, and I will be healthier overall.  I'm emptying my gut regularly, with less effort in a lot of instances, and more than one time in most days.   

There is no more reason for me to mentally prepare myself for the possibility of being in a wheelchair; rather, I can focus on regaining my legs and strengthening my left hip and knee, so I can stand straighter and walk with better form so as not to throw myself out of gait and off balance.  As I get stronger, I will walk farther and become healthier.  I have so missed walking :-(!  Because my body will be healthier, I will feel better, because I will expend less emotional and mental energy on dealing with pain and  tiredness.  Rather than needing strength for bearing pain constantly and having it as a way of life, I will now have strength to put toward other things.  I can explore options that I thought had slipped beyond me forever. 

And the whole thing started because God's Holy Spirit prompted me to begin to search out ways to protect my liver, prompted me to begin the Daniel Fast, and touched my back and set this healing in motion.  He is so very good!

Since I promised to tell the story of how I was healed, it wouldn't be a complete wrap-up of this fast if I didn't tell that story.  So here it is.

I mentioned my new church, Miracle Life Ministries International, which is in walking distance from my residence.  They had a prophetic conference during the last weekend in April, and when it was announced some weeks well in advance, I made it my business that I would be present.  And so I was.

Of the conference generally, I must say that it was a phenomenal experience, and if you missed it, I'm sorry for you.  I benefited greatly from it in more ways than just the healing itself.  I have known that prophecy was one of my spiritual gifts, and I have used that gift over the years, but I needed more boldness and more assurance in my ability to exercise the gift.  I received this boldness and assurance as a result of my participation in the conference.  The whole conference was divided up into sessions: the Friday evening session, the Saturday morning session, and the final session that evening.  Everything God had for me manifested during that afternoon session. 

First there was the moment during which we were all—at least I was—in the Spirit.  The Spirit moved in a wave of anointing across the room.  I was sitting in my chair, I know I was; but then, in an instant, I became aware of being in a reclining position, being lifted up in that position, and being held.  I could fee myself being rocked very slowly and gently, as if I were a small child being held.  The sensation was amazing!  I felt that I weight next to nothing as I was held and being rocked.  I have no words to write that will do justice to that moment; it was brief but indelible.  I do not think I will ever forget it, how it felt to be held like that.  I knew it was God, my Abba, who and come by His Spirit to love me like that.  It was so sweet!  Gentle, warm, tender,  I've never felt anything quite like it, although there have been other moments that I had forgotten that were also very beautiful and special, when the Holy Spirit had visited me in the past.

Then later, during a time when the chairs were moved back to make room for all the people to stand and receive the laying on of hands, I was in a moment of intensely focused worship, hands up, eyes closed, when someone came, took my hands, pulled me forward until I was bending, then the guiding hands took my shoulders and drew me further forward and down until I was doubled over from the waist.  The hands then touched my back.  Those hands belonged to a person, a woman.  This I know.

I don't know how long I stayed bent over, head, shoulders, torso, and arms hanging down to the floor, but I stayed there until I felt the release to rise.  I straightened, arms upraised, head back, back arched, and as I continued worshiping—all this time I had not stopped—there was suddenly a sensation of flickering heat, in the area of my back from whence had originated so much pain and trouble!  It intensified and moved along my back from that area and around in it, and I began claiming by faith and in the Spirit what I wanted:  Total healing of my back, that I would stand and walk and dance, that there would be no more pain, and only the healthy end-of-the-day weariness of a strong, healthy body that had worked hard and well.  Power and strength and ability to walk, so that I could begin to take care of myself and do those things that would help me become healthy in my body.  I claimed it in the Name of Jesus!  And the pain left, and, what else can I say, it has not been back from that moment to now.  And yes, I have been standing, and walking, and dancing in the Spirit.

That all happened before the Daniel Fast, but as I said earlier, the fast itself was part of something greater that God set into motion for my health, so this was a step in a series of steps.  The actual journey is underway, has been well underway for awhile now.  I'm excited to see where He takes me, and I'm so grateful for His mercy, His love, and His grace in not passing me by but helping me, and loving me, and just showing up so big, as He has done. To God be the glory!  I'm so happy right now!  Thank You, Abba! 

So now I think I'll grab a handful of nuts and maybe some fruit, and then I'm going to get ready for bed.  Thank y'all for coming with me on this journey.  I hope you've enjoyed what I've shared and that some of it was helpful to you.  It's a journey that may not make sense to some who are more legalistic or less sacrificial-minded, but for those who undertake it by faith, with true intent and a sincere heart, I think you will find it well worth the doing.  I wish you well, and all God's best to you in Jesus' Name!  Amen!


Daniel Fast, Day 20: Wind Down

Breakfast today was yesterday's mix of cashews with raw and roasted almonds and dried Bing Cherries.  Lunch was the same as breakfast.  After I'd been home for about an hour, I enjoyed a snack of pistachios and sliced mango, then T and I headed out for a movie.  At the theater, we shared a generous bag of salted popcorn, his share of which he topped off with a sizable fountain Coke.  Later after he got me home again, I answered the popcorn with come pintos and brown rice.  More dried cherries sealed the deal.

I'm not gonna be long at this, because I'm tired.  A little relaxation in front of the computer is what I want before I call it a night.  I'm all showered and slathered in shea butter, and when I decide I'm done being up, all I need to do is go lie down.  Nice!

One more day, y'all!  One more day!  All I can think about right now is some broiled fish with some rice and mixed vegetables or a salad.  I've planned a return trip to Whole Foods for tomorrow, and this time, I have money, I know I do.   Tomorrow will be a little bit of redemption for two weeks ago when I went and was so embarrassed when I left, not to mention very disappointed because I couldn't get a lot of the things I went for.  This time, I trust, will be much better, and I'll get to leave wearing a great big Kool-Aid smile.  I hope.  Maybe I'll find some fish I like while I'm there.

And now I know T reads my blog.  At least, I know he has read it at least once.  I'm happy 'bout that :-).

Okay, g'nite, y'all!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Daniel Fast, Day 19: What Feeds My Spirit

Breakfast today was a mix of raw and roasted almonds with roasted cashews and a banana.  Because this was eaten at my desk at work, and I pretty much ate the whole time I was sitting there, I wasn't very hungry by the time I got home, and even if I had been, the walk from the Rite-Aid was a little more arduous than in previous days, and I was literally too tired for a whole hour afterward to do anything but sit down and rest my face on the front of the flat screen monitor.  When I finally did feel like moving, I put on some brown rice and snacked on the pintos I'd put into the crock pot first thing after getting up this morning.  When the rice was soft enough to eat, I scooped some up into a bowl, spooned in some pintos, and covered it all in the juice I created by the use of entirely too much cooking water, and that was supper.  The flooding of the beans was by design; I like them soupy like that.  It made a wonderful bean gravy for the rice.  I haven't put a snack together, but it's time for one.

I'm feeling very happy about having made it down to my last two days of fasting.  But I made a discovery on my YouVersion Bible app for cellphones that I wish I'd known was there when I started the fast:  Bible/devotion plans!  Not that I didn't know the Bible plans were there, but I hadn't looked at all, and I didn't know about the devotion plans.  Wow!  More than the typical handful of plans I've seen on other sites or in other programs, too, lots, and lots, and lots of them!  There's even a plan suitable for a 21-day fast, which this is.  I wouldn't even look at it.  I'm just gonna save it and hope I remember it's there for the next time I do a Daniel Fast or any other type of fast that lasts 21 days.
Typically, I just pick a book of the Bible and listen to it during my commute, whether riding, walking, or waiting.  Since downloading YouVersion, I've covered all of Apostle Paul's letters, all the books of prophecy, and the Sermon on the Mount.  Now I'm in the second of the Books of Moses, Exodus.  I already finished Genesis.  I enjoy using YouVersion because, although not all the versions of the Bible are narrated, there are several that are, and most of those are actually rather well voiced.  The English Standard Version has become my favorite.  The man narrating is able to alter his voice just enough to distinguish not only between different speakers, but also emotional states without over-dramatizing to the point of distracting from the fact that I'm listening to the Holy Scriptures.  And it's nice to know that Alexander Scourby, as great a narrator as he was, isn't the only one who can bring the Bible to life for me as the listener.
However, I also like reading devotions sometimes.  These aren't narrated, though, so accessing them while in transit will greatly depend on light levels wherever I am.  Since cellphone displays are notoriously hard to see in bright natural light, and the display on my phone became known for being particularly invisible by professional consumer product reviewers before it ever hit the market, that will be something that I'll have to save for when I'm inside or under outdoor conditions where it's shady.  However, I'd like to begin a devotional plan or plans that will carry me through the summer.  There are so many from which to choose in YouVersion that it'll be a major, albeit enjoyable, undertaking to choose which ones to follow.  Who knows, there's one in there about food; maybe I'll start that one the day after my fast is finished, to keep me on track spiritually as I begin to put together my new way of eating.

Now, what shall be my snack right now?  I know there's gonna be some fruit in there.  And I liked the brown rice and almonds I did some days ago, maybe a little of that . . . . 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Daniel Fast, Day 18: The Medicine Edition

For breakfast on this 18th day, I combined roasted almonds and cashews together and had some dried cherries to go along with them.  Lunch was sunflower seeds and pistachios, followed up by an apple and a banana.  I ate the last of the cooked pintos for supper, and chewed on more cherries as I headed out for a Bible study.  Now that I'm home, I'm feeling a little peckish—that's British for hungry—and I'm thinking about some more pistachios and some strawberries.

I wasn't going to go to the Bible study tonight, but now I'm glad I went.  Besides getting an exhortation based on the account of the Prophet Elijah's last moments on earth and the simultaneous beginning of the ministry of the Prophet Elisha (2 Kings 2), I also got to spend a few moments in the company of two ladies whom I'm beginning to like a lot on very short acquaintance.  One of them is a dealer in essential oils and other things from a site called Young Living.  I've just come from a quick look around, and I think—I intend—that I shall be purchasing, either directly from the site, for from my new friend, because that is how she makes her living, at least in part, I think.  

While we were all talking together, she poured into my hand a single drop of an oil blend that smells absolutely exquisite, the scent of which filled the whole sanctuary space so that one of the brothers came over to investigate.  After she talked about an essential oil product she shared with someone who had suffered from post-surgical hip pain, I told her about how I came to be on the Daniel Fast, about my concerns for my liver due to the strong medicines I take for chronic pain, and about a discomfort I've been experiencing in the area approximate to where the liver is in the body.  She dropped a single drop of another oil blend in my left hand, had me emulsify it by rubbing my right hand over it, then sent me to the ladies' bathroom to place my hands over the area in question.  She says that this will help me.  I hope so.

The products on the site are certified Kosher, and she likes that about them.  So will many others. Depending on shipping and price, I think I may start building my stock of desired essential oils for skin and hair. The medicinal properties found in many of them will also be of benefit to me.  Who knows, maybe I will find one or more that will help me protect my liver, until I can wean myself off the medicines I'm taking for pain from which I believe God has now healed me.  

Essential oils are just one of the many items from the earth itself given by God to man for our health, comfort, and pleasure.  Foods are another.  I forget which Greek philosopher it was who said, "Whatever can be cured with food, seek not to cure it any other way," I think it was Hippocrates, the "father of medicine"; but in a less toxic world than ours it would be excellent advice.  Certainly it was very excellent advice in his day.  It is advice I mean to follow after these days of the Daniel Fast have ended.  I'm looking forward to that.

I'm also looking forward to the fulfillment of the vision seen by Ezekiel (see ch. 47) and Apostle John (Revelation 22), when all the world will be able to eat from the tree of life and be healed by it, as was seen in their shared vision:  The tree (or parallel rows of the same type of tree) will grow on either side of a rive that will flow from the sanctuary of God, and a fresh, different crop of fruit will be harvested from it every month.  The fruit will be for food, and the leaves will be gathered for "the healing of the nations."  Yeah, I'm really looking forward to that :-)!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Daniel fast, Day 17: The Gift

Yippee!  My palate is happy right now!  Let's see, for breakfast, I had two snack packets of mixed nuts.  Lunch was more of a snack, but what a snack:  Cashews!  Yes, cashews!  Not roasted in cottonseed oil!  And they were so good!  I ate only a few, along with a few dried Bing cherries, which were not overly sweet and quite tasty.  Supper was a plate full of salad made of mixed greens, tomato chunks, roasted sunflower nuts, strips of green bell pepper, slices of cucumber, and a first, olives!  They were the sliced black ones, but I don't care, I love olives.  I dressed it in EVOO and red wine vinegar with salt and pepper judiciously sprinkled on.  A Red Delicious apple completed my meal.  Biting a flat surface into my apple and sopping the excess vinegar and oil on my plate with it led to a nice little taste discovery, which I mean to try at my earliest convenience.  The combination of the tart wine vinegar and the sweet apple is gustatory synergy, y'all!  The vinegar makes the sweet more intense and enhances the flavor more than if I ate the apple alone.  Simply amazing!  But I got hungry again a few hours later, so I finished up with a veritable feast:  Baby carrots with black bean, traditional, garlic, and red pepper hummus flavors; roasted almonds and cashews; and dried Bing cherries paired with large, fresh-from-the-store strawberries, every one of them sweet.  My mouth is happy :-)!

And my soul is happy, too, for the gift I was given tonight.  As part of a discussion about parenthood and parenting, the question was raised regarding the do's and don'ts of single parenting, and the topic of surrogate male figures was raised.  It was generally agreed that female-parented boys benefit greatly from regular association and interaction with older boys and men of good character, because it takes a man, it was felt, to teach a boy to be a man.  The problem, as passionately and extensively expressed by a participant, is finding men of good character, especially when one's own male relatives don't exemplify it, as was her experience.  In that case, suggested others in the group, participation in a local church, boys club, Big Brother-type organization, or other group designed to foster and nurture female-parented boys go a long way to helping Mother in her quest to raise an upstanding man of capability and good character.  

I then raised my hand.  "I was only a mother for 19 weeks and 5 days, but given what I knew about my co-progenitor, I knew from the beginning that I needed to protect my baby.  Male role models were not an issue for me; I had my father, five brothers, and a lot of good male friends, but children need protection from people passing into and out of their lives, not being there for them, and I was determined to protect my baby from this."

So I then related how it was that, when I discovered I was pregnant, I went to my baby's co-progenitor and, after informing him of my pregnancy and my fidelity as proof of his genetic contribution, I offered him the following:  "You don't have to be involved if you don't want to.  I will take this baby, and I will raise my baby to the best of my ability, and we will live and be happy.  But if you choose to be involved, it begins now, and it is total.  You will not pass in and out of my child's life when you feel like it!"  To me, then as now, paternal involvement is more than a few dollars for a box of Pampers every now and then as an afterthought, you're there when you remember it, and the rest of the time we don't see you.  The first requirement is that both parents be committed to the child.  The child deserves to know both parents and the history and heritage that make the parents who they are.  However, when the non-custodial parent consistently demonstrates an unwillingness or inability to do his/her share, the other parent is required to protect the child as much as possible from the resulting instability and emotional upset that can and does result from an uncommitted parent playing ping-pong with the child's heart.  Having my child be well-adjusted and healthy in every way was far and away more important to me than having in his life an unstable force as represented by the type of person that was the co-progenitor simply for the sake of him saying he knew his daddy.

I firmly believe and stand by my position and decision now as much as when I reached them, but, "Since I was a mother only for such a short time, I recognize that I perhaps can't speak to this like the other mothers that raised their children," I acknowledged.  But "Mothers and their children deserve to know that they have someone in their lives who is committed to them," the guest moderator confirmed.  "This is not about marriage, this is about commitment:  The child deserves to have the commitment of both parents."  On that note, we ended the discussion, and I closed the meeting in prayer, thanking God for His example to us as our Father and asking, among other things, that He empower us to walk out His example in the lives of our children, whether they be of our bodies or of our hearts.  

Then the class instructor, who flows freely in the gift of encouragement, gifted me in perhaps the most precious way anyone could have done:  "I want you to know that it doesn't matter how long you were a mother to your baby.  What's important is that you were the best mother you could be to your baby, because you saw the need to protect your child, and you set out to do it.  That's what good mothers do, and you did it."  In tears over her acknowledgement of my mother's heart toward my baby, I thanked her, telling her how I prayed every day that God would help me be the best mother to my baby that I could be.  "Well, He answered your prayer," she declared in assurance.  "And your baby is waiting in heaven to acknowledge you as his mama."

After you have done your utmost best and right in a situation wherein you've faced heartbreak and disappointment in the end, to have others acknowledge good about what you've gone through can do much to soothe pain and heal hurt that you didn't know you still carried.  The gift of such acknowledgement is extremely precious.  Allow the Lord to lead, of course, but when He presents to you the opportunity to so gift another person, be grateful for the moment, and be your utmost gracious in the giving; it is a great and rich and sweet blessing.